Aardvark in national guide

November 29th, 2018

By Lisa Green | The Journal Gazette

Drinking straws probably aren't included on many Christmas wish lists, but products made by a local manufacturer are getting a plug in a national gift guide.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing's annual Made in America Holiday Gift Guide includes Aardvark Straws.

The Fort Wayne company, which is in the midst of a more than $9 million expansion, has received considerable attention for the paper straws it introduced in 2007. The interest stems largely from growing concerns about protecting the environment from plastic waste. 

Aardvark's straws are “non-toxic, BPA-free, elemental chlorine-free, durable, compostable, labeled sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council,” the holiday guide says. 

The manufacturing alliance typically selects two companies or products from each state and the District of Columbia to spotlight in the guide.

“We try to mix it up also for the towns and cities,” Jesús Espinoza, press secretary for the alliance, said during an interview. “A lot of the companies we highlight in our guide are small or family owned, so we try to use our national platform to give exposure to these companies.”

Along with Aardvark, a second company is listed as a bonus pick for Indiana. The Hoosier Bat Co. in Valparaiso makes wood bats that can be customized. 

“We feature a variety of items at different price points, from stocking stuffers to big-ticket items,” the alliance said in a news release. “The guide includes a variety of gift ideas at every price point and shines a spotlight on companies that support U.S. jobs and the local economy.”

Aardvark, which has customers throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia, was acquired in August by the Hoffmaster Foodservice Division of the Hoffmaster Group, Inc. Aardvark employed about 60 locally, but state officials announced this month the company could add up to 205 jobs by the end of 2021. 

The straw-maker plans to relocate from 2701 Coliseum Blvd. S. to a facility at 7310 Innovation Blvd. with more than 100,000 square feet – four times the current space, by early next year. Aardvark plans a job fair Thursday at its Innovation Boulevard facility to help fill more than 100 manufacturing jobs.

Andy Romjue, president of Hoffmaster Foodservice, said in a statement that Aardvark is “thrilled to be recognized by The Alliance for American Manufacturing and to be included alongside a group of great U.S. manufacturers” in the guide.

Aardvark lists multiple retail outlets for its products, ranging from CK Products and Shindigz in the Fort Wayne area to Amazon.com online.

The alliance's guide also includes the United States Playing Card Co. in Kentucky and Ebonite bowling balls, “union-made” in  Hopkinsville, Kentucky. American Plastic Toys and Iverson snowshoes in Michigan are mentioned. For Ohio, Step2, which offers toys, children's furniture and home products is included with the Cleveland Clothing Co., which makes apparel and accessories that “celebrate the home city of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

Ninety-eight percent of Cleveland Clothing's products are Made in America and printed in Cleveland, and what isn't produced domestically is sourced through Ohio companies, according to the gift guide.

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